Michael Rankin

Michael Rankin is a senior partner in Gowling WLG’s Ottawa office. He is an experienced litigator appearing at trial and appellate levels of court as well as administrative tribunals, and in mediations and arbitrations across a broad range of litigation and industry sectors.

A primary focus of Michael’s current practice is family law. His multidisciplinary practice skills underpin his management of high net worth family law matters focusing on income attribution, valuation, tax, forensic accounting and division of corporate assets, including advancing or defending claims of corporate oppression or wind-up orders, when necessary. Michael is a skilled negotiator and strategist, and an experienced trial lawyer – he produces excellent results for his clients by finding creative solutions to achieve and surpass their goals and expectations. 

Michael’s vast experience also includes procurement litigation, commercial, corporate and shareholder disputes, product liability, environmental contamination actions, defamation, tort actions, fraud and insolvency cases.

Michael also has considerable experience in white collar and criminal litigation, having started his career acting as both criminal defence counsel and as a special prosecutor for the Department of Justice. His practice developed over time to include a wide range of quasi-criminal and regulatory fields including election financing laws, financial regulatory compliance and reporting, corporate governance, fraud and money laundering,  occupational health and safety, municipal law compliance and environmental protection.

As a steadfast champion of his clients’ interests when cases do go to court, Michael is recognized for his considerable achievements in numerous highly contentious proceedings. He is a trusted advisor to colleagues acting in highly complex disputes and a devoted mentor to students and associates.

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:
  • 2018

    • Education
      Osgoode Hall Law School, Certificate in Advanced Procurement Law and Practice: Major Projects and Tendering
  • 2017

    • Education
      Osgoode Hall Law School, Certificate in Public Procurement Law and Practice
  • 2005

    • Rankings & Awards
      Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition for outstanding dedication and service in successfully representing the City of Ottawa in high profile legal actions
  • 1987

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      Year of Call, Ontario
  • 1985

    • Education
      McGill University, Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
  • 1982

    • Education
      Concordia University, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science


  • Canadian Bar Association
  • County of Carleton Law Association


  • “Who ya gonna call (out)? Government of Canada introduces tip line to report federal contract fraud,” McMillan LLP, April 20, 2017.​
  •  “In this Great Future, You Cant Forget Your Past – Update to the Government of Canadas Integrity Regime Provides Clarity, Includes General Anti-Avoidance Provisions,” McMillan LLP, April 6, 2016.
  • “Procurement complaints against the government: more than just bid challenges,” McMillan LLP, February 11, 2016.

Speaking Engagements

  • Panel presentation on the use of expert witnesses in business valuations including mock cross-examination, CCLA Family law Institute – Montebello (Spring 2023).
  • Buying Into Change: Updating Your Procurement Process for CETA/CFTA Compliance, Procurement Management Association (October 2017).
  • All Hands on Deck: Navigating the Tricky Waters of the Federal Government's New Integrity Regime of Public Procurement, The Canadian Bar Association, Webinar (April 2017).

Representative Work

  • Lead counsel for over three decades in complex family law matters, involving shareholder disputes, business valuation, tax and forensic accounting issues.
  • Lead counsel before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal in the defence of procurement challenge under the NAFTA - represented the successful bidder in protecting its contract award with Canada Post Corporation.
  • Lead counsel in complex tort, tax and pension litigation before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada involving claims pertaining to wrongful criminal charges and the impact of deregistration of a pension plan under the Income Tax Act
  • Lead counsel for Carleton University for many years on a wide array of litigation and advisory matters including procurement, construction law, commercial disputes, class action litigation, intellectual property protection, academic & fraud and discipline, gifts and advancement and governance issues
  • Lead counsel for an oil tank manufacturer in the defense of numerous actions across Ontario involving product liability and negligence claims.
    • Lead counsel in complex insurance litigation involving claims pertaining to excess liability coverage and insurance broker negligence
  • Lead counsel in shareholder oppression and winding up actions under the Ontario Business Corporations Act.
  • Lead counsel for the City of Ottawa in the successful defense to the challenge to the Smoke Free Bylaws, which banned smoking in public places and workplaces. This included the jurisdictional and constitutional challenge to the legality of the bylaws at both the trial and appeal level, injunction proceedings, and by law enforcement and prosecutions. The winning defence resulted in Ottawa being used as a national and international model for the implementation of smoke free bylaws and legislation.
  • Lead counsel for many years to the City of Ottawa and to other municipalities in a wide range of civil and commercial disputes, including procurement litigation, construction contract, personal injury, tort and libel and slander actions.